GV charts its own course with big bets on med tech: Bloomberg

Google Ventures' Bill Maris

VC firms traditionally take a measured approach to med tech investing, but GV, formerly Google Ventures, is bucking the trend. The company is betting big on companies with innovative technologies despite potential regulatory obstacles.

"I care that the technology works," GV founder Bill Maris told Bloomberg. "The rest will follow." The firm has $2.4 billion under management and about a third of its investments were in healthcare, the news outlet reports. GV has invested in companies such as Editas Medicine, which is developing gene editing tech, and Foundation Medicine ($FMI), which is working on genetic profiles for cancer tumors. The firm also sunk cash into New York-based Flatiron Health, which is working on patient monitoring software.

"It's really hard to find a firm that operates in all these domains," Malay Gandhi, former managing director of San Francisco-based digital health venture firm Rock Health, told Bloomberg. "And they're not dabbling either. It's multiple companies per category, with big check sizes."

GV is unlike other VC firms in that its funding comes entirely from a single source. Alphabet ($GOOG) holds the purse strings for the company's investments, but the company seems to have no trouble supporting the cause. "I spend no time fundraising," Maris said, as quoted by Bloomberg. "Alphabet can give us as much money as we want. They can't give us time back, so we invest time even more carefully than money."

Time is a valuable commodity for GV given the nature of some of its investments. Some of the companies the firm invests in are still fleshing out their technology. Editas, for example, is not planning on kicking off clinical trials for its gene editing tech until 2017. And Foundation, which GV first invested in back in 2011, is still having trouble getting insurers to sign on to its tumor profiling technology.

Still, Maris said that the firm will continue to focus on the investments that "are most controversial" because they also "have the most spectacular outcomes, good or bad." "The most you can lose is your money" and the gains could outweigh potential losses, Maris said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Not everyone is as confident about GV's approach. "It's too early to tell if they have good bets in place," Gandhi said, and whether Maris' and the firm's strategy will pay off in the long run.

- read the Bloomberg story